Draft Watch: Tom Wilson, Tanner Pearson, Phil Di GiuseppeJune 16, 2012, by
One position the Rangers might like to improve on is their wing depth, specifically in the form of power forwards. New York boasts a handful of gnat-sized forwards that possess bundles of talent, but could struggle to match up against bigger NHL players. There are a few players that could be available at pick #28 that bring size and skill and may catch the Rangers’ eyes.
Position: RW Height: 6’4″ Weight: 200
The book on J.T. Miller’s Plymouth teammate is pretty simply: scouts are pretty much unanimously convinced that he’ll make it to the NHL, the question is whether he’ll be a bottom-six role player, or a stud power forward. Wilson’s physical game is tremendous, he’s one of the most ferocious hitters available in the draft and he has a fairly well rounded game. He’s battled through some serious adversity in coming back from various injuries over the last couple of seasons. The big question lies in his offensive game. Wilson only produced sparingly for Plymouth, just 33 points in 77 games over the last two seasons. He cranked it up during the playoffs this year, when he posted seven goals and six assists in 13 playoff games. However, there’s simply not enough evidence that he has the tools to be a big scorer at the NHL level. A fitness freak, Wilson is a relatively safe pick in that he’s extremely likely to help a team in some fashion, there’s just huge debate over whether he can produce enough to justify a first-round pick. There seem to be teams that are convinced that Wilson will mature offensively, making it less likely that he’ll be available at pick #28, but he could be the type of high-risk, high-reward pick that makes sense for New York this year.
Position: LW Height: 6’0″ Weight: 192
If you were to stumble across Pearson’s 2011-2012 statistics – 37 goals and 54 assists in 70 games – you might be a little confused as to why he’s not a consensus top-10 pick. But this is a clear case where numbers don’t tell the whole story. After a relatively underwhelming early junior career Pearson exploded this year, but he’s actually been bypassed completely in each of the last two drafts and is considerably older than almost all of the other players available this June. On the one hand, Pearson could simply be a late bloomer and thus a potential gem. But on the other, he may have far less room for growth than many of the other forwards one or two years his junior. Still, 91 points can’t be ignored and it’s unlikely that a guy like Wilson ever sniffs those totals at any level. Pearson plays a relatively hardnosed game but he’s really a goal-scorer. He possesses a strong wrist shot in addition to solid playmaking ability. Because of his age and physical maturity, it’s possible that he could jump right to the American League this season and play in the NHL far sooner than many other 2012 draft prospects. He’s also coming off a broken right fibula that came in the last game of the regular season. Pearson’s case is far from cut and dry, but his fate will come down to whether scouts believe his 2011-2012 production is indicative of his future or not.
Phil Di Giuseppe
Position: LW Height: 6’1″ Weight: 200
Di Giuseppe shares a couple of similar qualities with a man that’s become quite popular among Rangers fans – Carl Hagelin. The most recent Michigan Wolverine product is also a great skater and has become a major pest on the forecheck. Di Giuseppe has terrific offensive instincts and quick hands, which resulted in 11 goals and 15 assists in 40 games this year. Di Giuseppe could be a bit more physical, but he’s still growing into a considerable frame. The Rangers have dipped into the college ranks with regularity lately and have had success specifically with Michigan alumni, so Di Giuseppe could be a logical pick. It’s often difficult to predict how a player’s game translates at the college level compared to the pros, but Di Giuseppe has several impressive tools led by terrific footwork and natural goal-scoring ability that suggest he could have a very bright future ahead of him.